Illustrations by Amanda Rosa.

Most folks still limit their period conversations to vague euphemisms: “that-time-of-the-month,” cramps, bloating. Common problems that arise from mainstream menstrual products, like skin irritation, vaginal discomfort and leakage, are expected to go undisclosed and covered up. On top of the period shame, talking about serious environmental and monetary costs posed by disposable products aren’t discussed. When talking about the sustainable (and cheaper!) alternatives, like cloth pads and menstrual cups, embarrassment and disgust are common knee-jerk reactions.

If you want to reduce your menstruation’s environmental impact and save some money in the long run, but you’re not ready to part with tampons (or menstrual cups seem scary), consider using chlorine-free or organic cottons ones that don’t come with a plastic or cardboard applicator.

You can also make a reusable cloth pad with no sewing experience whatsoever. If you don’t have a period, make one for a friend who does. You can also donate it to Wild Iris’s Free Store which aims to provide free necessities for queer and trans people, people between housing, and those with special needs. •

Homemade Pad

These pads snap at the bottom and have adjustable absorbency. This pattern doesnt require a sewing machine, but If you have a sewing machine, there are tons of different styles of pads you can try making, including circular, square and neatly folding pads. A Google search of reusable pad patterns will bring these up, and nice list of all of them can be found at 

What You’ll Need 

»  Some flannel or fabric: You can use an old shirt or buy some fabric from A-1 Sewing Machine & Vacuum, or another local sewing store. The leftover fabric section is a great place to find cute patterns on the cheap.
»  Terry cloth or old, clean washcloths.

»  Metal snaps (like the ones found on baby–and adult–onesies). You can make this pattern without the “wings,” the part that folds and attaches under the underwear, and you won’t have a need for the snaps.
»  A basic understanding of how to sew two pieces of fabric together.


1. Cut four pieces of flannel in a long, oval “pad” shape. For more security, you can add “wings” by cutting out flaps on either side of each piece to attach under your underwear with snaps. Leave extra fabric for your seams. How big you make them depends on you, your flow, your style and probably your zodiac sign, but my advice is to make them bigger than you think you need to give yourself room for seams and human error.


2. Cut the terry cloth into rectangular strips to fit in the center of the flannel pad. Since these have adjustable absorbency, just sew one or two layers of these on top of one piece of flannel using a “zig-zag stitch.” If you know what that is, it seems like the right thing to do. If you’re like me and cry as you hot-glue and duct-tape everything in your life together, just do your best to attach the terry cloth to the flannel. I believe in us.

3. Lay one of your flannel pieces on top of what you’ve already sewn, print side up. Then lay your other flannel piece on top of that one, print-side down.

4. Take the one of the remaining pad-shaped flannel pieces and cut it in half, hot-dog style.

5. You will hem straight edges of both of these pieces. Fold the edge about a quarter of an inch, sew it, fold it again and sew it again. This
will help your hems from fraying.

6. Lay one of your half-pieces on top of what you have so far (pattern side down), and the other half-piece on top of it, overlapping the first one slightly. This should look like a little pocket. The pocket is where you can insert more terry cloth for extra absorbency.

7. Now sew it all together along the outside. This is why it’s important to give yourself extra fabric at the beginning. Your pad is only going to be as big as the smallest piece.

8. Flip that baby inside out. (If you’re advanced, you can topstitch to hide the seams on the inside to keep your pad from fraying in the wash. Or if you’re tired, just deal with it another day. You’ve done enough. 

9. Now you can add your tried-and-true onesie snap to the wings, but you’ll need snap pliers to do this. Velcro is another option.